The Victorian Era in England
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June
1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence for Britain. Some scholars date the beginning of the period in terms of sensibilities and political concerns to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.
The era was preceded by the Georgian period and followed by the Edwardian period.
An important development during the Victorian era was the improvement of communication links. Stagecoaches, canals, steam ships and most notably the railways all allowed goods, raw materials and people to be moved about, rapidly facilitating trade and industry. Trains became another important factor ordering society, with "railway time" being the standard by which clocks were set throughout Britain.
Steam ships such as the SS Great Britain and SS Great Western made international travel more common but also advanced trade, so that in Britain it was not just the luxury goods of earlier times that were imported into the country but essentials and raw materials such as corn and cotton from the United States and meat and wool from Australia. One more important innovation in communications was the Penny Black, the first postage stamp, which standardized postage to a flat price regardless of distance, sent.
The Victorian era became notorious for the employment of young children in factories and mines and as chimney sweeps. Child labor, often brought about by economic hardship, played an important role in the Industrial Revolution from its outset. The children of the poor were expected to help towards the family budget, often working long hours in dangerous jobs for low wages. Agile boys were employed by the chimney sweeps, small children were employed to scramble under machinery to retrieve cotton bobbins, and children were also employed to work